Daly Surname Genealogy

The O’Dálaigh was an Irish bardic sept
which came to prominence early in the 12th
century, with Cui Connacht O’Dalaigh, the first recorded of that name,
Westmeath. The Irish annals hailed him
as “the first ollamh of poetry in all Ireland.”
means descendant of Dálach. It is
thought that the name came from the same root as dáil meaning
“assembly.” Dálach
therefore probably meant “assemblyman” or
“councillor.” The name later became O’Daly
and Daly. In America it is also Daley and Dailey.

Daly Resources on

Daly Ancestry

Cui Connacht O’Dalaigh, the first of that name,
founded a bardic school in Westmeath in the early 12th century.
county Westmeath and from the bordering
parts of county Meath, the
then spread to Clare. From Meath came the
13th century Donagh Mor
O’Daly, called “the Irish Ovid,” who based himself at Kinvarra in
county Clare.

they were resident bards with the O’ Reillys in
Cavan and they were also to be found with the O’Neills in Munster and
O’Connors in Connacht.
Og O’Daly was made
the official poet of the MacCarthys of West Cork in the 16th century.

end of the prominence of the Gaelic-speaking nobility of Ireland,
epitomized by
the Flight of the Earls in the early 17th century, meant the eclipse of
families like the
O’Dalaighs that
had depended on their patronage. The name
O’Dalaigh also changed, becoming
anglicized to Daly. With the
subsequent loss of land in the wake of rebellions against English rule,
branches of the
became, to a greater or lesser extent, impoverished.

One prominent exception to
this trend was the Daly family of Dunsandle in Galway, starting with Dermot O’Daly in the late 16th
century. They cut their cloth with the
English and became part of the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. Generations of this family served as mayors
and MP’s of Galway.

Some Dalys have more
recently reverted to their ancient O prefix. Prominent among them was
the Irish
language devotee Cearbhaill O’Dalaigh. Born in modest
circumstances in county
Wicklow, he became a judge in the Court of justice of the European
and, for a short time, was President of Ireland. He resigned in
circumstances and died shortly afterwards in 1978.

Today, the concentrations of Dalys, outside of Dublin, are in Westmeath
and Cork.

Tomas O’Daly, a Galway native who served in the Spanish army as an
exile, was sent to Puerto Rico in 1765 with the purpose
of revamping the island’s defenses. He
stayed and developed a sugar plantation.
In 1781 he died
and his brother Jaime took over the family property and helped raise
his three
children. One of these sons Demetrio
rose to the rank of Field Marshal in the Spanish army

Peter Daly of the Galway Dalys of Dalysgrove came to
Jamaica in the early 1800’s. His son
James was a merchant and planter along the Black river.
He is best remembered in Jamaican history as
being the guardian of George William Gordon who was hanged by the
British in
1865 and later made a Jamaican national hero. The
Daley name is mainly to be found in St. Elizabeth parish today.

Daly, Daley and Dailey are the
three main
spellings in America, their share today being approximately:

  • 37%
  • 27%
  • and
    36% Dailey.

Many Dalys came to New York:

  • Charles P. Daly, born in New York in 1816,
    descended from the O’Dalys of Galway but was the son of poor immigrant
    parents. He managed to learn the law and,
    at the age of just 28, was appointed a judge. He
    held the position of Chief Justice in New York for 42
  • Joseph Daly, the son of an Irish sea captain
    from Limerick, held a similar position of Chief Justice from 1870 to
    1896. But it was his brother Augustin who
    was the
    more famous of the family. Drama critic,
    theater manager and playwright, he became the first recognized stage
    in America. He formed a permanent
    company in New York and opened Daly’s Theater there in 1879.
  • while David Daly, the son of Dalys from
    county Mayo who came in the early 1850’s, was Clerk of the Superior
    Court in
    New York from 1891 to 1905. His family
    settled in Middletown, New York.

E. Daley was a butcher in New York, the son of immigrant
parents who
had arrived from Waterford during the famine years.
The family later moved to Chicago. Richard
J. Daley, born there, was the founder
of a Chicago political dynasty. He was
mayor of Chicago for 21 years, his son Richard M. Daley for 22 years.

enterprising Dalys/Daleys struck out west for California by ship in the
early days before the overland route had been established:

  • John Daly
    had departed Boston for California in 1853 at the tender age of
    and later started a dairy farm in what became San Mateo county.
    The town of Daly City was named after him.
  • Robert
    Daley meanwhile came out from London in 1855 at the age of fifteen to
    with his sister in San Francisco. In 1868 he moved to southern
    California and built a log cabin which became the Daley Ranch near what
    is now Escondido. The ranch still stands today.

heading west was Marcus Daly who had arrived in New York as a fifteen
year old from county Cavan in Ireland in 1858. He too travelled
by ship to San Francisco where he also had a sister. He learnt
the mining business there and made his fortune from the Anaconda copper
mine in Bute, Montana, which he bought with money from various backers
in 1880.

Canada. John
Corry Wilson
Daly, born in Liverpool but educated in Ireland, came out to Canada
with the
Royal Navy in 1834. He was the first
Mayor of Stratford, Ontario and generally considered its founder. His grandson Thomas headed west and was the
first Mayor of Brandon, Manitoba in 1882.

The Daly House

there is now a museum.

Michael Daley and his family from Offaly were
early settlers in Osgoode township near Ottawa in the late 1820’s. Many
of the Dalys from county Cavan who
in Rawdon in Quebec province were
baptized at the Ste. Ambroise-de-Kildare church.
No fewer than 42 were recorded there between
1830 and 1906.

Daly Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Daly Names

Cui Connacht O’Dalaigh
who died in 1139 was
the first recorded of the
Dermot O’Daly was the first of the Galway Dalys
who later became Barons of Dunsandle.
Daniel O’Daly was a Dominican priest who
found his metier as a 17th century diplomat in Spain.

Marcus Daly developed the Anaconda mine in Montana and
was one of
the copper kings of America.
J. Daley
was Mayor of Chicago for twenty one years and the first of
Daleys that were to dominate Chicago politics for generations.

Select Dalys, Daleys and Daileys Today

  • 18,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 40,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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